6 FAQs About the Game of Chess

Chess is one of the oldest board games around. If you’re new to the game, or looking to take it more seriously, you probably have lots of questions.

Before you begin your search for a classic chess set, here are a few Q & As to point you in the right direction.

1. What kind of board should I get?

            Whether you’re buying your first set or looking to upgrade from plastic, a classic wooden chess set is the best choice. Sophisticated and sturdy, a wooden set will last you generations, and still be light enough to bring to the local park or chess club.

2. How do I find people to play with?

            Speaking of bringing your classic chess set with you, there are a few good options for how to find friendly opponents. To begin with, chess is a great way to bond with family and friends. Some libraries and community centers have chess clubs. If there are chess tables at your local park, this can be a fun way to invite some unpredictability into your life. When you’ve exhausted these options, there’s always the internet. Craigslist, Facebook, and MeetUp can all help.

3. How do I improve my game?

            Playing frequently and against a wide range of opponents is the most fun way to improve, but if you want to get serious about the game, you will want to do more targeted practice. Two components of this are study and exercises. Studying includes checking out (and memorizing) classic chess moves and well-played games. It also means reading books about strategy and tactics. Exercises are like problem sets for chess. They take the game apart so you can focus on particular skills and target your practice. You can find exercises in books or online.

4. How do I enter a chess tournament?

            There are a few different organizations that run chess tournaments. If you join a local club they will be able to direct you to local opportunities. At the national level, the US Chess Federation (USCF) runs tournaments across the country at a range of levels. You can also attend these as an observer, to get an idea of what to expect.

5. What are chess ratings, and how do I know what mine is?

            Chess ratings are a bit like weight classes in wrestling. In order to fairly pair up opponents in competition, tournament organizers use various rating systems to sort players. Typically a higher numbered rating indicates a better player, and players go up and down in the ratings depending on how they performed in the last tournament.

To get an official rating you have to score enough points against enough already-rated players within a couple years. If you’re working toward this goal, be sure to enter FIDE rated tournaments.

6. Will playing chess make me look smarter?

            While having a classic chess set in plain view of houseguests or in the background of Zoom calls will certainly make you appear smarter, you have to actually play the game to get real mental benefits. Chess can improve your focus, visual processing, and strategic thinking.

Pick up a classic chess set and get started today! 

Chess is an excellent hobby to develop if you want to improve your mind, make new friends, and never lack for a new challenge.

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